In my last post, I talked about how to identify authentic Kung Pao Chicken at any Sichuan restaurants. But how did this incredible dish come about? And how to make Kung Pao Chicken at home?
The dish was first invented in late Qing dynasty (1880s) by a gourmand and government official named Ding Baozhen（丁宝桢）. He was the governor of Sichuan province, a title pronounced as “Kung Pao” in Chinese, which means the place’s guardian. He loved spicy and crunchy texture, and is a huge food personality in the Sichuan region. His private chef invented this dish specially catered to his taste buds, and he loved it. He served this dish at every dinner party he hosted, and his guests would always ask him for the recipe to take home.
During the Cultural Revolution, however, the dish’s name became politically incorrect. The revolutionaries believed that the name “the Palace’s Guardian” indicated the endorsement of the old monarchy, so they renamed the dish to “Hu La Chicken (Burnt Spicy Chicken)”. It wasn’t until the political rehabilitation in the 1980s that the dish was returned to its original name. If you visit China, some places might still use the “Hula Chicken” name. Order it, because this is the same Kung Pao Chicken that you love.
The original Kung Pao Chicken recipe:
Watch the video:
Peanuts — 1/3 cup (you can use toasted or raw. I used raw in the video.)
Chicken Drumsticks — 2 (you really HAVE TO use drumsticks, it gives a crunchy and juicy texture that chicken breasts cannot provide)
Dried Chili Pepper — 2 whole ones, medium-size
Sichuan Peppercorn — a pinch
Leek — 1, only the white part
Soy sauce — 1 tbsp
Shaoxing Cooking Wine — 1 tbsp
Vegetable oil — 2 tbsp
Pi’xian Fermented Broad Bean Spicy Paste — 1 tbsp
Soy sauce — 1.5 tbsp
Black rice vinegar — 1.5 tbsp
Sugar — 1 tbsp (I used honey, and I forgot to put it in the video… )
Corn starch — 2 tsp
Garlic — 1 clove, minced
1. Debone the chicken drumsticks (as shown in the video), and then cut them into bite-size cubes.
2. Marinate the chicken in soy sauce and shaoxing cooking wine.
3. Dice the leek in a relatively thick fashion (~0.5 inch)
4. Mix together the Kungpao Sauce in a bowl.
5. In a hot wok, add vegetable oil.
6. *If your peanut is raw, toast the peanuts at this step. If your peanut is toasted, go to next step.
7. Add Sichuan peppercorn, dried chili, and leek, sauté until fragrant. Then add chicken.
8. Cook the chicken until it’s no longer translucent, add Pi’xian Fermented Broad Bean Spicy Paste.
9. Add Kung Pao sauce (make sure to mix it again before pouring into the wok, the corn starch tend to subside to the bottom) and stir until well combined.
10. You’re done! Serve.